What is common law?

The term “common law” indicates that the trademark rights arise from actual use of the trade-mark without registration. Common law rights are limited to the geographic area in which the trade-mark has been used or where the trade-mark owner can establish a reputation based on that trade-mark. In the United States, this may mean that a user of a common law mark may only have rights in Florida, for instance, and another company with no knowledge of the use of the mark in Florida could use the mark for the same wares or services in Texas. Registration of a trademark is always recommended since registration confers more rights than mere common law usage. U.S. law also requires potential registrants to make an attempt to discover conflicting common law rights. In most countries in the world outside of the Anglo-American sphere of legal influence, trademark rights are based only on registration.